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Natural, non-toxic living! Sounds great right? Well, it is. It is one of the best changes you can make for your family. However, it can be overwhelming at first. How do you even begin toxin-free living? Where do you start? Do you need to throw away everything in your house and start over? In a perfect world, maybe. But, we have to factor in time, money, and the fact that most of us do live with other human beings. Because of this, I’ve created ten easy steps on how to begin natural living! This is not all-inclusive list of every single step to take to become truly “crunchy”. It is, however, an excellent resource to get you started on the path toward non-toxic living.
These are the steps that I personally took on my own journey toward a healthy, natural lifestyle. In fact, some of these steps I am currently taking or have been working toward accomplishing! I began my journey toward natural living because I felt the Lord telling me to simplify; therefore I want to make this process simple, organized, and straightforward for you. It is also important to make these changes cost effective! You can follow these steps at the pace your family, budget, and schedule allow.
Now, before we begin, I want to make this very clear–do not get discouraged! Don’t read this post halfway through and think, nope, too much, can’t do it. This is a process. It takes time. We have lives, jobs, habits, and families. I have been doing this for three years and I am still in the process of cleaning up my life and home. These are the steps that I have taken and the areas that are, in my opinion, priority. I like to see the big picture and then set up a plan based on that. That is what I have outlined for you here.
Just remember, each change is a win! I cannot stress this enough! Even switching out one product or using one reusable item is a huge win! So, celebrate every positive change you have made, don’t get discouraged, stay organized, and press on!
I am not going to go into great detail about the negative effects of every chemical or product I list in the article; that would become a twenty page essay! Feel free to do your own research, however, know that I have chosen these changes for myself because the threats are real and they are scientifically backed. So, here we go!
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1. Clean up your cosmetics
This was my first move toward natural living. When I started researching what was in my beauty products and makeup I was horrified. Parabens and phthalates are the big ones to look for. Triclosan should be avoided as well, and the FDA finally got on board with this one and banned it. If you see something with triclosan, steer clear. Parabens and phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals. Parabens are pretty easy to find–propylparaben and methylparaben. Phthalates, however, are sneaky. They are usually disguised as “fragrance (parfum)”.
Unfortunately, even many of the organic and natural brands hide these nasty chemicals in them, so you really have to look at the ingredient list before purchasing. Be sure to look for “phthalate free” on the label. What products to check? Pretty much anything you put on your body–moisturizer, sunscreen, makeup, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, shaving cream, baby lotion, diaper cream, etc.
This can be overwhelming, so just begin to replace these products as needed, and find better natural alternatives. Thrive Market has some great options. You can also DIY, which is my personal favorite, as it as cost effective and you have complete control over the ingredients. *UPDATE* In an effort to simplify the process, I did not include every single toxin here, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list of dangerous chemicals in cosmetics! For a true audit of your products, check out the EWG Skin Deep Database.
2. Choose clean produce and meat
If you can avoid even a little pesticide residue, it is beneficial. Going completely organic can be a little too much for some people, as it can get expensive. Right away, I chose the things I ate most and bought them organic. This is especially important for produce that does not have a skin. For me it was apples, lettuce, spinach, pears, and carrots. Another hack you can use is to buy bulk frozen organic vegetables.
I personally use Azure Standard for much of my organic fresh and frozen produce, but any food delivery co-op can help with the cost. I highly recommend joining an organic, natural food co-op and buying in bulk. It will help tremendously with budgeting. As far as meat goes, it can be hard to switch as it can be an expensive change; buying local and in bulk can really help.
I recommend choosing at least one of your most consumed meats and making the switch. Chicken = free, range, antibiotic and hormone free. Beef = 100% grass-fed, antibiotic and hormone free. Fish = wild-caught. Also, speak with your meat manager at your grocery store to find out exactly where your meat is coming from.
3. Rid your home of artificial fragrance
This is an absolute must! These items continually blow toxic fumes into your home. Bathroom air refreshers, room sprays, plug-ins, scented candles, perfume, body mist, basically anything with a smell is probably full of toxic chemicals. Replacements?
We all want nice smelling homes, right? Essential oils. Beeswax candles. DIY room sprays. An essential oil diffuser is a great tool for this. If money is tight, I would recommend lavender, pine, lemon, cedarwood, cinnamon leaf, and sweet orange* for air refreshing purposes.
4. Avoid processed vegetable oils
Processed oils can contribute to inflammation, mess up the omega fatty acid ratio of your body, cause heart disease, and are just very unhealthy. Begin by switching out your cooking oils—phase out any canola, vegetable, peanut, or soybean oils.
I use avocado oil for high heat, coconut oil, beef tallow, pastured lard, grass fed butter, or ghee for medium heat, and extra virgin olive oil for dressings. The next step, and honestly the hardest one, is to start looking for these vegetables oils in your food and finding better alternatives. Places to look–canned beans, chips, crackers, tortillas, popcorn, trail mix, and anything preserved.
5. Switch out your cleaning products
This was a big one for me. One day realized I did not need a separate cleaning product for every surface in my home. I tossed them all and made one all-purpose cleaner for everything. Household cleaners may contain carcinogens, poison, and severe lung irritants.
You don’t need all that toxicity unless you are planning on killing off the bubonic plague in your home. I now use only my DIY all-purpose cleaner and castile soap + baking soda as a scrub. Essential oils are also great for non-toxic cleaning.
6. Embrace a natural laundry routine
Friends, this is another big one. Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners are toxic. You are putting clothes, blankets, and towels on your body 24/7 and those chemicals are in contact with your skin all the time. Why do you think the first step to treat an unknown rash is to change laundry detergents? Among many other things, they are irritating and carcinogenic. Other options? Find a natural laundry soap that you like, and use white vinegar and wool dryer balls as softeners.
7. Ditch the refined sugar and flour
White sugar, refined flour, and simple carbs can lead to obesity, heart disease, insulin resistance, and a myriad of other health problems. An entire book could be written on this. In fact, they have been written. Reduce your intake of these things as much as you can. I choose coconut sugar, honey, pure maple syrup, and stevia as sweeteners. I look for buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, brown rice flour, sprouted grains, quinoa, buckwheat, or brown rice. Thrive Market is a great place to get started with healthy snacks, flours, and baking needs.
8. Reduce garbage
Recycling should be your last resort, because the energy it takes to recycle is not exactly eco-friendly. Look for ways to prevent garbage from even accumulating. Drink from reusable stainless steel or glass water bottles and coffee mugs. Invest in a few reusable grocery totes. Bring reusable produce bags to the store with you. Embrace cloth wipes and diapers. Get a compost bin going! Right now, I am on a mission to make reusable storage bags and I am also working out a system for reusable bamboo towels. Buying in bulk is a huge help if you have the storage. Take advantage of the bulk bins at your grocery store! Join an organic food co-op like Azure Standard.
9. Phase out plastic
Oh plastic, where to start! Unfortunately, our government has failed us in that they have let the plastic industry pollute this country with so many toxic and dangerous products that it is impossible to get away from it. This goes for styrofoam as well. Plastic can contain endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic chemicals, which include polyvinyl chloride, phthalates, and BPA. Use glass jars for storage, glass or stainless steel cups for drinking, ceramic or bamboo plates, wooden cooking utensils, wooden or natural rubber baby toys, reusable storage bags, and reusable grocery totes.
10. Choose non-toxic cookware
Non-stick teflon contains toxic chemicals called PFCs. When those pans get scratched, these chemicals are released into our food. Bake with over safe glass or ceramic. Cook with cast iron, stainless steel, or ceramic coated pots and pans. This is the cast iron skillet that I use in my home–ideal for frying, sautéing, and roasting. I also have a cast iron pan that was passed down from my grandmother I love. If you can find one of those, I highly recommend keeping it! Stainless steel is good for boiling and making sauces.
Well there you have it! Ten easy steps toward a natural, non-toxic lifestyle. This is an absolutely wonderful thing to do for your family, and like I said earlier, each and every win counts! Each change is leading you toward a safer, less-toxic, all natural lifestyle for you, your family, and your home.
Please consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially if you have a specific diagnosis or condition. The information on this site should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to be a consult with a healthcare provider. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits from essential oils or eucalyptol have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.